Thank you for accepting our invitation to introduce you to our HocTok audience.
What are some of the most essential musical experiences that have motivated you in your own musical training as a pianist?
I started playing when I was 5 years old and I was on stage by the time I was 8. So, when I was little, the stage was both a natural place for me and my motivation in those early years. I loved playing for everyone, sharing the feelings that music gave me, growing and living life through music.
As the years have gone by, I have discovered that the experience of constantly learning, always keeping an open mind and being alert to discovering more music whilst, at the same time, discovering more about yourself is, in itself, a privilege… And music also gives you the desire to travel, to get to know the world, experience different cultures and find different ways of feeling emotions through.
Photo: courtesy of the artist
Who are your favorite composers? How about pianists?
It’s so difficult to choose just a few: the repertoire for piano is so large that a whole lifetime would not be enough to play it all! But probably my favorite period is the romantic one in which the piano shone in full splendor. Schumann, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt… And, because of my French side, (my father grew up in France) I am particularly close to the Impressionist music of Debussy, Ravel or the Spaniard Federico Mompou, who I feel particularly emotional about. But with music you never know: all of a sudden, I can be totally fascinated by the freshness of Mozart, Beethoven’s genius or the warmth of Schubert.
And my list of favorite pianists is even longer. Of the current ones, I adore the sound of Maria Joao Pires, the temperament of Martha Argerich, elegance of Mitsuko Uchida, the honesty of Radu Lupu and the sobriety of Grigory Sokolov. Although, in the same breath, I can’t forget wonderful pianists of the past who are no longer with us, but who are so present for me…pianists like Arrau, Horowitz, Richter or the Spaniard Alicia de Larrocha.
What is your relationship with contemporary music and composers?
I believe that we musicians, particularly younger ones, have a responsibility to play and showcase the music of our time.
In recent years, I have approached music that is being written today, with very positive vibes. I recently played a piece I commissioned from the Spanish New Yorker José Luis Greco, which has a rhythmic language and harmonies that are really very interesting. It’s brilliant ragtime with a more evocative, Impressionistic, central p- a mix that works really well.
Where are some of your favorite venues and cities to perform? What makes these places special to you?
Each city, each venue, each concert is completely unique, and even when you go back to a place where you’ve played before it’s just different every time. The repertoire, the public, the moment…it’s never the same twice: that’s the true magic of playing live!
I really enjoy playing in large venues with orchestra – the atmosphere is incomparable. But then, recital concerts or chamber music have a very special intimacy that enables a magical connection between the audience and the stage.
How do you describe a successful series of performances? What does it take to achieve that feeling of accomplishment after an ecstatic standing ovation? The truth is that we very rarely walk off stage feeling truly satisfied with our performances. The constant search for perfection, the point to which we push ourselves since we are very young, the studies – these are all things that are a part of our lives, of who we are. In my case, something curious happens with ovations: the adrenaline rush of the moment hardly allows me to hear or take-in what’s coming from the audience right at that very moment. I can’t hear the applauses, but when playing I do hear the silence: when the audience is connected with what is happening on stage, there is a magical kind of silence, you can feel the energy and the shared emotional connection of the moment in the air. That degree of concentration is addictive. Do you pay more attention to critics, your audience, your group of collaborators or your gut instincts to evaluate your performances? I try to listen to those whose opinions and criterion I value, and to be open, receptive and accepting of their ideas and suggestions. I think that, in addition to your gut feelings (and a healthy degree of self-criticism: we musicians tend to be our worst critics), what’s most important is to be humble enough to know that to make progress you have to continue learning or at the very least, to explore alternatives to help you find your way. Do you have any go to publications (print or online) that you read religiously? I’m more into reading articles from different sources than sticking to a few publications. Social media is fantastic for this, it’s just so useful in helping you find stuff that interests you instantly, at anytime, anywhere in the world. Is it important to you to be in the know of musical events and trends in major cities where you have performed or plan to perform? Yes, absolutely! Classical music has opened up in recent years in terms of communicating what’s going on. Everyone is of course wondering about its future, with the average age of audiences not falling and younger generations being more interested in other types of events. That is why it’s so important to communicate, to raise awareness of classical music both in industry and general media publications, to make anyone and everyone welcome to a classical music concert, and to get rid of the elitist tag that it often carries to get particularly young people to simply close their eyes and let themselves be carried away by the emotions of music, without prejudices. Getting back to the question, yes, I think it’s really important to promote concerts and be visible within both musical and wider cultural circles. Social media and the press today offer so many more windows to share projects and give them the visibility they deserve that we have to make the most of their potential. What are some of the upcoming projects you are looking forward to? I am really looking forward to my debut in Paris, at the Louvre Auditorium, and in London, at the Southbank Centre. I will also be returning to China, where I debuted in 2014, with an extensive set of recital concerts. I’m really excited to see how things have changed there in these years, the country has such a great musical potential. Did you know there are 40 million kids learning to play the piano? That’s 40 million future musicians. Any plans for a North American tour or better yet a concert in NYC ? Right now, there is nothing confirmed, but I really hope to be able to come over to the US soon and particularly to NYC, one of my favorite cities in the world. Can’t wait!